Rebuilding America: Spartanburg Schools Look to Summer
May 29, 2020 by Samantha Swann | Spartanburg Herald Journal | 2020news
Spartanburg Community College is slowly transforming. Plexiglas dividers are installed at service desks, signs with reminders of the world’s new rules are on doors, and wellness check forms are required to go farther into the campus than the student services’ building lobby.
While a few of the college’s seniors have already returned to campus for the hands-on classes they need to graduate, more changes are still being made in anticipation of the slowly increasing numbers of students they plan to welcome in the coming weeks as summer classes begin.
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“We’ve ordered protective shields for the face-to-face kinds of areas, we’ve ordered masks, some gloves, and a lot of hand sanitizer so as faculty are working with students in these small groups, they still have protection. We are planning traffic patterns,” said Dr. Cheryl Cox, SCC’s senior vice president of academic affairs.
Their first summer session, which started May 18, will be mainly online, while the second session, starting in June, will offer face-to-face courses. By fall, the college hopes to open to all students, though Cox said she anticipates a lot of students will still opt for the online courses.
This staged reopening is being implemented at many local colleges, all of which aim to be on campus in the fall.
Wofford College’s first summer session, running June 1-July 2 will be entirely online and a decision regarding their second session, running July 6- Aug 6, will be made later in May. Similarly, Converse College will be running its first summer session, starting June 1, entirely online, while some classes in their second and third sessions may be on campus, with the decision to be made in June.
Spartanburg Methodist College, Limestone College and USC Upstate’s summer course schedules will be entirely online.
Spartanburg’s K-12 schools have more time to figure out what their summer is going to look like, with most not dismissing until the first week of June.
Superintendents are receiving more instruction from the state board of education about what guidelines summer schools and camps will need to follow. Discussions of the fall during the governor’s April 22 press conference included ideas of using the first few weeks as a review to make sure students are on track for their new grade.
“Right now, there are many scenarios being considered but no firm plans yet,” said D7 Chief Communications Officer Beth Lancaster of summer plans.
Private schools have begun making plans. Oakbrook Preparatory School spokeswoman Amanda Ledbetter said the school has decided to cancel most of the summer camps they typically offer. They are planning to hold any camps they may offer and their summer athletics program later in the summer than usual. Summer work and reading assignments are also being handled differently because of the coronavirus.
Lee Healy, spokeswoman for Spartanburg Day School, said the school’s summer camps have been canceled for June, but they are discussing options for starting in July or later.
The summer camp organizers have also started announcing their decisions. Meghan Smith and Savannah Ray of Spartanburg Academic Movement’s Out of School Time Collaborative said they’d heard back from many of their community partners.
“We’re still meeting individually with programs just to nail down what they plan to do, but from what we’ve heard so far, the majority are doing virtual and those who are thinking about in-person, still keeping it very small so they can adhere to the social distancing guidelines,” Ray said.
For example, B.A.R.S Academy and My Brother’s Keeper will be offering their camps and courses online for the first time. While Cassie Lloyd, director of mission advancement for YMCA of Greater Spartanburg, said their current plan is also to go forward with in-person camps while following state guidelines and recommendations.
During their current daycare services for children of essential workers, the YMCA is focusing on outdoor activities that encourage social distancing, like fishing, hiking, and cycling, which would likely continue during the summer.
“We know that being outdoors and socially distanced is one of the healthiest things that we can do right now,” Lloyd said.
Groups are also working with the anticipation of additional need for financial assistance. B.A.R.S. Academy and My Brother’s Keeper will be working with the Out of School Time Collaborative to provide scholarships for their digital offerings, while the YMCA is doing a push for donations so they can provide more scholarship assistance.
The biggest takeaway for parents? Don’t assume that there won’t be any opportunities for their child this summer.
“I don’t think anything’s out of the question at this point, with things changing from day to day. I don’t want to say anything’s out of the question, but I think the goal is that you still have the opportunity to engage in a quality summer program and that even in this environment, (the children) still feel that they are connected with other youth, that they’re connected with caring, trusted adults,” Ray said.